Gov. Perry Declares Himself Candidate For President
By Ben Philpott and Nathan Bernier
Governor Rick Perry introduced himself to the nation as a presidential candidate at a speech this afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I declare to you today as a candidate for president of the United States,” Perry said at a conservative activists’ conference in Charleston, South Carolina.
Perry began his speech by asking the audience to observe a moment of silence for the 30 American soldiers killed last week in Afghanistan.
He followed with a description of his pastoral roots as the child of two tenant farmers in rugged West Texas, and touched on his military history in the U.S. Air Force in the 1970s.
“Anyone from any background can climb to the highest of highs [in the United States]. As Americans, we don’t see the roll of government as guaranteeing outcomes, but allowing free men and women to flourish based on their own vision, their hard work, and their personal responsibility,” he said.
Perry pivoted on that note to attack the Obama administration and pin blame for high unemployment and slow economic growth on the President.
“We realize there is no taxpayer money that isn’t first earned by the sweat and toil of one of our citizens,” Perry said to loud applause from the conservative audience.
“That’s why we reject this president’s unbridled fixation on taking more money out of wallets or pocketbooks,” he said.
The Texas Governor hailed the Lone Star State’s relative economic stability during the recession as evidence that his particular economic philosophy should be applied at the national level.
“We balanced our budget, not by raising our taxes, but by cutting spending,” Perry said, in reference to the recent state legislative session. The Texas legislature passed a two-year budget that didn’t raise taxes, but did include $15 billion in cuts to government services, including a $4 billion reduction in public education.
“It can and it must be done in Washington DC,” Perry said.
The room was packed with conservative activists who cheered Perry’s applause lines. They are just the kind of people Governor Perry needs to win over quickly considering his late entry into the race.
“There are a few people here who think he’s not conservative enough on immigration or one thing or the other,” RedState director Erick Erickson said.
“Most of the people are very excited by him. Having surveyed the crowd there are a lot of people who came in today saying I thought Pawlenty was going to be the guy,” Erickson said. “But he’s just not as exciting as I thought. Let’s see how Rick Perry does.”
Governor Perry next heads to New Hampshire, where he will seek votes from Republican voters in that early primary state.
He also must now ramp up his campaign into full gear. Our political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, has this look at Perry’s inner circle of campaign operatives.
Meanwhile, Texas Democrats are reacting to Perry’s announcement. They are pointing to the consequences of large state budget cuts, seeking to undermine the Perry campaign’s argument about economic growth in this state.
“Gov. Perry has done incredible damage to education—from kindergarten through high school and from college through graduate school,” Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) said in a statement after Perry’s announcement.
“He wants to eliminate Medicare, privatize Social Security, and continue to subsidize his corporate cronies, while cutting everything that helps working Texas families,” Doggett said.
Doggett is fighting to keep his seat after Democratic-leaning Travis County was split into five separate Congressional districts by the Republican dominated state legislature.
But his message is consistent with what Texas Democratic Party spokesperson Kirstin Gray said earlier in the week when Perry spokesman Mark Miner confirmed the Governor’s intention to run.
“The real ‘Texas miracle’ is that the Governor dares talk about our jobs, after demanding a state budget that will lay off tens of thousands of our teachers and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Gray said in a statement.